There are three reasons I'm not surprised. The first is that I suck at endings. I always have, and they will probably always be the part of a story that I find most difficult. Beginnings are easy for me, I just pick out a suitably dramatic moment and go. Endings... endings always awkward, though. Does the narrative just stop? Do I end with a line of dialogue, a description of the sunset, a narrative musing? How do things end, anyway? So, it's not shocking that when it comes to short stories, I find a way to end the piece without really ending the story.
Secondly, I know myself to be primarily a novelist. All my best ideas first occur to me as extended epics, both personal and fantastic. Some of them I file down to short stories - especially in the context of my Burning Rejection Challenge - but they always remain contextualized by the conditions that gave them birth. Specifically, a longer story.
Finally, I'm not surprised because my one-shots are the same way. Roleplaying style isn't always an indicator of writing style, but in this case, it's dead on. I never run totally self-contained one-shots. They always feel like a first episode or a juicy cut from the center, satisfying, self contained, but implying more.
Sometimes I take the philosophical view: nothing really ends and nothing really ends. Every beginning is just a matter of point of view, not "when does it start" but rather "when did I start paying attention." I kind of like that rather than pretending that reality is neater and cleaner than it really is, my stories embody that reality.
That said, I don't know if stories that work this way are satisfying. If they are, I'm quite content to keep on writing the way I have been... except, of course, that stories still need to have endings, and I'd like mine to be more elegant. I also don't know if stories that work this way really are as satisfying as I hope they are (and find them myself). I'd hate to be doing something people think is annoying and dressing up a bad habit as a virtue (which is something I find annoying).
Fortunately, though, essays do have endings, and that brings us to it. I'd love to hear your answers to my prompts - or just your thoughts on the topic in general- below. Until then, farewell.
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- Do you think this is a serious flaw, or are stories that don't really end as satisfying (or more so?) than stories that end definitively.
- What kind of short stories do you prefer?
- What advice do you have for getting more comfortable with endings?